Middle-Grade Mini-Reviews: Starfell, Amari + More

You can see the title—today it’s time for a few more middle-grade mini-reviews. I’m honestly not sure when I did the last round, but today I’m here to talking about three—the third book in the Starfell series by Dominique Valente, Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B Alston and The Boy, the Wolf and the Stars by Shivaun Plozza. So let’s just get to it!

Willow Moss and the Vanished Kingdom (Starfell #3) by Dominique Valente

The Starfell series is honestly such an underrated middle-grade series—it’s so much fun, but it’s also full of heart. And book three is no exception. Willow is a wonderful character and she’s already had so much development over these first three books—she’s smart and kind, but also has a tendency to get into trouble which basically makes her the best kind of middle-grade protagonist. This book introduces a bunch of amazing new characters but also brings back a few old friends, including my personal favourite, the kobold Oswin (who is the sort of like cat-creature you can see on the front, though he is definitely NOT a cat). This is, admittedly, my least favourite of the series so far, mostly because the previous two made me sob uncontrollably and this one was overall just a little lighter on the emotional front. I know you’d think that would make me like it more but my brain works in mysterious ways. Nonetheless, it was a great continuation of the series and I can’t wait to pick up the next one. If you’re a fan of Cressida Cowell’s books and you’re looking for something new to read, I highly recommend Starfell. As I mentioned before, it’s fun and full of heart but it’s also got some really stunning illustrations done by Sarah Warburton as well!

Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations #1) by B.B Alston

If you’ve been anywhere on the online book community this year then you’ve probably heard at least someone talk about Amari and the Night Brothers. It’s been absolutely taking the book community by storm. I feel like middle-grade books so rarely get their day in the sun so I’m always excited when it does happen. I finally managed to pick up Amari this month as part of Bookoplathon as well as part of a buddy read that my lovely friend, Helen, organised. This is such a fun beginning to a series—it’s very magical and fast-paced, but it also has some really interesting characters and a few hints at other books and pop-culture things. On the whole, I really enjoyed it but I’m not sure I loved it as much as most other people have. It was missing something for me, but I’m not sure what it was—I think it was maybe just my mood or the fact I’ve been in a bit of a slump this month. Like I said, I still really enjoyed it but I’m sad to say it won’t be making my list of favourite books this year, unlike so many others.

The Boy, the Wolf and the Stars by Shivaun Plozza

The Boy, the Wolf and the Stars was one of my most anticipated releases of late 2020 and I’m sad to say that I didn’t end up loving it as much as I thought I would. I would consider Shivaun Plozza’s YA debut, Frankie, to be one of my favourite books of all time so I went into this with extremely high hopes. This is by no means a bad book, not in the slightest, but I just couldn’t connect to this story like I’d hoped to. I think this is written in a very particular way and it just wasn’t working for me. I did really enjoy parts of it though: the protagonist has a little fox sidekick named Nix who I literally adored, and there are also excerpts of different ‘books’ between chapters which is one of my favourite things to see included in books. I read this alongside Amari, which might have been why I didn’t end up enjoying them as much as I thought I would but who knows? I might decide to come back to this one at a later stage and give it another reread, but for now this is how I’m feeling.

Have you read any of these? What middle-grades have you been reading lately?

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